Two years have passed, but it still seems incredulous. Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a fee of €222 million. Firstly, a fee as high as that was unheard of then. Paul Pogba was the costliest player at the time, and his fee totaled to £89m. Neymar’s fee was more than double of that. However good the Brazilian is, a fee of that magnitude was surely overkill.
Secondly, no one expected the move to go through. Neymar was at one of the best clubs in the world playing with some of the best players in the world. He was part of a tremendous attacking trio which contained Lionel Messi and Suarez. Neymar had a great relationship with those two on and off the pitch. He had no apparent problems with any other players or a member of staff.
Neymar has not given an apparent reason yet why he moved, but public speculation has led to one belief. Messi was the protagonist at Barcelona, and usurping him at the club is simply impossible. Neymar wanted to lead his team and go after individual accolades independently. He has no enmity towards Messi, and the two remain good friends to this very day. Another reason for his departure is disagreement over finances.
Without going into many details, Neymar’s father and the Barcelona board did not see eye to eye over the contract details. So Neymar moved to Paris, where he was joined by Kylian Mbappe, another big-money signing. Edinson Cavani was the third member of the trio at PSG. They won the Ligue 1 in the last two seasons, and Neymar was sensational when he was on the pitch. Sadly, that time was limited.
In both the seasons, Neymar got injured in January which ruled him out till May or later. He missed PSG’s knockout games in the Champions League as a result. Real Madrid knocked them out in 2018, and Manchester United did the same this season. Neymar was watching from the sidelines, unable to play any part. The two league titles did little to validate his move, as PSG were by far the best team in France on paper. Even when Neymar was out, they had enough to wrap up the Ligue 1 both times.
Neymar’s reputation has arguably gone down, which is a bit unfair. On the pitch, he has been sensational whenever he has played. But his antics have resulted in criticism, and a substantial amount. As for the other side of the breakup, Barcelona have not enjoyed it either. Ernesto Valverde has created an effective system around Messi which has brought two La Liga titles.
But the lack of personality and quality in attack became evident in the Champions League. Barcelona experienced humiliating defeats to Roma and Liverpool respectively in both the seasons. It’s safe to say both sides have borne the brunt of the split. The neutral fan has not enjoyed it either, as Barcelona played some unbelievable football with the heralded ‘MSN.’ As far as the bigger picture goes, the Neymar saga looks to be a lose-lose situation.